VALPARAISO | For years, Valparaiso has shut down the V-Line's Brown Route during the summer when Valparaiso University classes were out.
It now looks like that might not have been such a good idea.
Although originally set up to serve the needs of the university students, the Brown Route had 1,975 riders in June as the V-Line had a total of 8,746 riders for the month. That was 1,401 more than in June 2012 when the V-Line had only 80 riders on the Brown Route before it was shut down.
"We are running the Brown Route for the summer to see if it would increase ridership, and we wanted to give a full year's ridership numbers to the consultant team that will be doing the route study," city Planning Director Tyler Kent said. "We wanted the total maximum riders with the service year round."
The V-Line's Yellow Route had 2,985 riders in June, the Green Route had 2,972, the Orange Route shuttle to the Dune Park station had 475 and the Red Route had 323.
Of the Brown Route ridership, Kent said, "There are possibly more international students staying on campus year-round because we also are seeing a large number on the shuttle as well."
The city opened proposals at last week's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting from four consultants interested in doing the route study.
Kent said the finalists will be chosen next week for interviews by a committee, which will make a recommendation to the board of works in 30 to 45 days. Kent said he hopes to have the study completed by year's end.
The ChicaGo Dash set a new ridership record in June with an average daily ridership of 112.5 each way. The four buses had a total of 4,500 riders in June for 20 service days. Kent said the parking lot at the Franklin House is nearly full each weekday and people are using the parking slots on Indiana Avenue and Lincolnway.
That's why the city has hired a consultant to find a new location for the transit oriented district in the downtown.